Will Bardenwerper discusses his book The Prisoner in His Palace At Politics and Prose in Washington, DC.
In 2006, a dozen American soldiers deployed to Iraq were assigned to guard Saddam Hussein at the former palace known as The Rock, and to transport him to court during his trial. The soldiers’ close contact with “the man without a conscience” was powerful and troubling. In his detailed account, Bardenwerper, who served as an Airborne Ranger-qualified infantry officer in Iraq and was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Bronze Star, reveals Hussein as a complicated Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, capable of appalling brutality yet also charming and even courageous in the face of his impending execution. His guards, surprised by the former dictator’s humanity, questioned both the nature of evil and their own capacity for wrongdoing. Bardenwerper is in conversation with Robert McKenzie, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and director of its Muslim Diaspora Initiative.